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Ethics Complaint Filed Against Snellville Councilman Mike Sabbagh

The complaint concerns Sabbagh's conduct at a Marietta council meeting in October of 2011. (Updated Dec. 14, 8:30 p.m.)

Gwinnett Ethics, Inc., has filed an ethics complaint against councilman Mike Sabbagh as a result of his "violation of the city’s code of ethics as defined in Article IV, Section 3-51(a) of the Code of Ordinances," according to the official complaint.

In at least one appearance before the Marietta City Council, according to the document, Sabbagh attempted to use his position as a Snellville City Council member to "secure special privileges and exemptions for others."

The complaint stems from an appearance Sabbagh made at a Marietta council meeting on Oct. 12, 2011, in which he spoke on behalf of a friend of his, Waleed "Lee" Jaraysi.

Jaraysi built a wedding hall that residents of Marietta referred to as an "eyesore." The building was scheduled for demolition, but Jaraysi, after investing millions into it, requested a halt on that. 

Cobb Superior Court granted the demolition order back in 2010, but the story goes back even further than that. Jaraysi was granted permission to build an 8,000-square-foot wedding hall in 2005, but he built it into a 24,000-square-foot complex instead. It's been tied up in courts ever since, according to the Mariettta Daily Journal.  

The video of Sabbagh's appearance is available here. (Scroll to minute 37:00.)

According to the official complaint, Sabbagh "appeared before the Marietta City Council with his Snellville City Council member badge prominently displayed on his lapel." He also stated that he was a professor at Southern Polytech University, which the complaint says is untrue.

However, Sabbagh claims that he taught classes as an adjunct professor from 2000-2006 or 2007. 

"I was simply trying to convince the city of Marietta to allow the owner of the building some extra time, as the economy was hard," Sabbagh told Snellville Patch. "I didn’t go in there as an authority figure, I went in there as a citizen. They knew who I was." 

Snellville City Council already pursued an ethics inquiry back in January, but after an official apology from Sabbagh, they dropped the matter in order to prevent further embarrassment to the city, according to Councilman Dave Emanuel. 

"With all of the political activities in Snellville, I think it’s really unfortunate that we have something new for the people to contend with," said Emanuel. "I’ve got mixed emotions [regarding the complaint] because, on the one hand, if someone violates the code of ethics they should be held accountable, but it makes the mess in Snellville even worse."

Gwinnett Ethics has requested that the city launch an official investigation into Sabbagh's conduct, and if they determine he did violate Snellville's Code of Ethics, that penalties be imposed on him, which can include asking for his resignation.

Update Dec. 14, 8:30 p.m.

Councilman Mike Sabbagh issued the following statement as a follow-up to this original story:

"I believe in open government and that every elected official is accountable to the public. The right of citizens to file an action is one I support. However, having read the filing; it contains mistakes and it appears that filer is not aware that this matter was taken up over a year ago by the Snellville City Council. I trust the people of Snellville and believe they know me and my record as a city council member and I have every confidence that this process can be addressed in an appropriate and timely manner."

George Wilson December 14, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Snellville politics is always interesting.
Will Thompson December 14, 2012 at 10:35 PM
This is sad sad sad. Many good things happened here this year but people like this bring embarrassment and shame to our great city. I looked at the video and that just made it worse. This man is supposed to be a representative of the people of Snellville. He is not supposed to go around using his position to help friends. He says he teaches right across the street and drives by the building every day and then he admits he hasn't worked there for four or five years. That's a lie plain and simple and now he is telling more lies. He says he went there as a citizen so how come he wore his Snellville name badge and said he was a councilman. How can we be proud to be from Snellville when we have a councilman running around telling lies on top of lies.
Brenda Lee December 15, 2012 at 01:52 AM
GRRR!!! Councilman Sabbagh is sooooo out of his league. It wasn't that he wanted to support a friend. It was that he 1) wore his Snellville Councilman badge, 2) intentionally brought attention to the fact that he was a Snellville City Councilman and 3) in effect, THREATENED the Marietta Council. I'm not sure if it's ignorance or stupidity. Either way, he's a sad respresentative for the City of Snellville. GRRR!!!
TOWG December 15, 2012 at 06:13 PM
I think the Councilman has a bit of a problem. That whole appearance was inappropriate. What a doofus.
Will Thompson December 15, 2012 at 07:07 PM
More sad embarrassment.from councilman Sabbagh. He puts out a follow up statement was no doubt written by a lawyer. It is one of those mealy mouth statements that tries to put the blame on someone else for something he did. So he thinks every elected official should be accountable then maybe he can tell us why he wore his city badge and said he was a councilman if he just went to Marietta as a citizen.
Jane Pleska December 15, 2012 at 10:15 PM
This gets sadder with each of the councilman's statements. How can he not admit that he lied about driving by the building everyday and that he works across the street, The very least that we should expect from our LOCAL leaders is the truth, Why can't the admit that he lied, what else has he lied about. It is the old birds of a feather story.
Kenneth Stepp December 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Mr Sabbagh's statement is interesting. No mention of what he actually did to cause this action. Admitting nothing, even though it is obvious. The matter was not properly addressed a year ago or it wouldn't be addressed now. And the people of Snellville do know his record. That has been to do & say whatever the mayor told him to do or say. Snellville could use someone with their own opinion. The only real thing of note he accomplished was going to another municipality and embarrassing his city by using threats and lies to make a point. 2013 is an election year. Hopefully the voters will correct this problem for good.
Jerome Williams December 17, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Yeah this is sad. Looks like he lie to people he suppose to be helping in Snellville.

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